Every Goodbye Ain't Gone

Wellstone Remembered

 

Sarah Stoesz
WELLSTONE STAFFER 1991-95, LONGTIME FRIEND, AND CURRENT CEO OF PLANNED PARENTHOOD

Losing him is really like losing a big part of my own heart. At the same time what is left of my heart is entwined with his and that will never die. Many people my age--I am 44--grew up as young adults with him as we began to hit our stride politically. We are like one unified person, all of us. And that is his legacy.

I remember in the last few months, my husband and I have had the privilege of being with Paul and Sheila a lot. We did two events last Saturday. I'm embarrassed to say I made a cynical remark about another DFL candidate, and Paul admonished me about that.

There was no separating the politician from the human being. Politicians will call political activists when there is a death or a personal problem. They'll do it to gain political advantage. But not him. When he stood on the Senate floor and gave a speech on behalf of those whose lives he was trying to make better, it was no different from when he picked up the phone and asked about their sick children, or when he suspended his campaign on Friday to attend Tommy [Rukavina's] dad's funeral. He didn't need those votes on the Iron Range. He already had them. He needed to be with Tommy because he needed to be with him.

When I was working for him I was the one who had to write his speeches. He would never use them. He would look in his briefing packet and then about five minutes before we got to where we were going he would say, "Okay, I have got to close my eyes and think." Then he would open them and say, "Okay." And he'd go bounding out of the car and hug and shake hands with about three-quarters of the people there and then go give this marvelous extemporaneous speech. He was full of joy. And he expressed it by talking about the most challenging issues in a way that created hope.

In our office we called him Pablo or Puffy for a while but then we just all called him Paul--or Paul-and-Sheila, like it was all one name. (Robson)

 

Elona Street-Stewart
ST. PAUL SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER

During the course of my campaign I got to know Paul and Sheila. I was an endorsed candidate, and so I ran a coordinated campaign with the Democratic Party. There were a number of things that the Party made possible, and Sheila in fact came to a number of fundraisers, by herself and entirely on her own. She would just show up at these meet-and-greets to support me. Sheila spoke up all the time about children's issues, early childhood family education, community wellness and health disparity issues. She was very sharp and very involved. It didn't matter how big or small the crowd was, she would give you everything she had.

Sheila was obviously a woman who sacrificed an awful lot in order to be a good partner to Paul, as well as a mother and grandmother. That can't be an easy life, and I'm sure along the way she wished she'd had more time to be with her family, but they also always made an effort to keep everybody with them and involved. She was an excellent role model for how to do it right. She paid attention to the important things. (Zellar)

 

Barbara Carlson
FORMER MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL MEMBER AND TALK RADIO HOST

He came to the studio to be on my show when he was running for U.S. Senate, that first campaign. He was so unpolished. He was wearing earth shoes. But his rhetoric had me absolutely enraptured. I had heard of him before, when he was state auditor [sic], but I had never really heard him or met him before. He was really something. He had an amazing ability to move people with his speeches.

Paul Wellstone was never wishy-washy. Not once. He was a man of conviction. I'm proud to have known him and called him a friend. We always argued, but whenever he saw me, he would throw his arms open and take me in his arms and kiss me. Even though we were on different sides, I can say he was a friend to thousands.

I have to say, I was going to vote for Norm Coleman. I am going to vote for Norm Coleman. But I think Paul was probably going to win that race. He still had it in him. (Anderson)

 

Warren Spannaus
FORMER MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL

When I was running for governor in 1982 he was running for state auditor, and I had a plane and Paul didn't have any money. So I used to take him with me on the plane all the time. And in those days I had to follow him to the lectern all the time because I was running for the higher office. I didn't like that much. He was always a tough act to follow.

I remember this time we were coming back on the plane and I was kidding him about the speech he had just given. I said, you know, "Paul, that was a great speech, but I didn't hear you say anything about the auditor's office. The auditor really doesn't have much to do with foreign policy so far as I know." And he laughed, and he said, "I don't know anything about accounting."

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